President to Add Investigative Unit on Trade Practices in China–YES!

If you read my last blog about Solyndra and China’s cornering the market on solar panels then the part of President Obama’s State of the Union address about trade practices in China didn’t go over your head. It should have peaked your interest. I caught it and was elated. The president stated that the U.S. doubled the trade cases against China than the past administration. And he will initiate an investigative unit on trade practices in China. Add to this plans for new trade/tax practices and the U.S. just may return to the an innovative manufacturing giant once again–especially in green industry.

Amen to that. No more failed Solyndras.


Solyndra a Model of Why the U.S. Won’t Be a Contender in the New World Order

Going green has lost quite a bit if traction in the U.S. because of some really outrageous spin and it would appear the oil/gas industry and their lackey’s in congress to be the culprits. Despite the fact we can see climate change with our own eyes, and that some of the giants in the oil industry admitted greenhouse gas contributes to climate change, we’re heading toward more fossil fuel production with gas fracking and tar sands oil at the top of the list. Friends of fossil fuel have jumped on the Solyndra bandwagon of failure as some sort of omen that green start-ups are too risky, and therefore, unworthy business models in the U.S. during a time of renewed “drill and frack” mentality. But Solyndra is a model of a much more ominous nature. Solyndra’s failure is not due to an innovation that had no place in the market, or mishandling of funds, or was too costly compared to the competition, or because it was a vehicle of some underhanded exchange of money for political gain. While conspiracies abound around the name “Solyndra” the biggest problem Solyndra had to overcome was CHINA, one of the four new and fastest growing world economies. No the U.S. is not on that short list.  We’ll never make it at all if we continue on the path of fossil fuel for energy and stall moving forward quickly with green innovation.

Don’t get me wrong. China is indeed destined to get most of that tar sand oil from Canada, and so it is in the big fossil fuel burning category of nations. But China also continues to be a mixed bag for its energy sources and moving more and more quickly into the green foray. China recently emerged as KING of solar panel producers exporting its solar panel wares worldwide in numbers far greater than its competitors. But how did this happen you say and so quickly? And how come a company like Solyndra that barely came out of the ground went under so quickly? Surely there was a market for solar just look at China.

Just about all the reporting relative to Solyndra from ABC, to Fox, to numerous websites has been false and totally out of context, the main one being that it is Obama’s baby. Truth is Solyndra began in 2005 with a sound standing in the field of solar panels. Solyndra was the leader in innovation for solar. While standard solar panels look like flat screen monitors and utilize costly silicon in their photovoltaics (sun’s energy converted to direct current), Solyndra’s solar panels sported a tubular design that didn’t utilize silicon chips at all.

Solyndra’s solar panels are made up of 40 individual modules, wired in parallel for high current, which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. Using innovative cylindrical copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS modules) and thin-film technology, Solyndra systems are designed to be able to provide the lowest system installation costs on a per watt basis for the commercial rooftop market. More than 1000 Solyndra systems are installed around the world, representing nearly 100 Megawatts.

Lightweight: Low Distributed Load of 2.8 lbs. per Square Foot

Designed to Last for More than 25 Years

Easier and Cheaper Installation

Superior Wind Performance: Ideal for Windy Locations

Greater and More Effective Rooftop Coverage

Design Keeps Panels and Roofs Cooler

From 2005 to late 2009, Solyndra panels were in the ballpark cost wise with standard solar panel manufacturers. Solyndra’s  founder  Dr. Christian Gronet earned a Ph.D. in semiconductor processing and a bachelor of science degree in Materials Science from Stanford University and was Vice President and General Manager of the Transistor, Capacitor and Gate product group at Applied Materials for 11 years.   According to their website, “Applied Materials is the global leader in providing innovative equipment, services, and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display, and solar photovoltaic industries.

Solyndra had no problem raising over $78 million in venture capital quickly. From Climate Progress and verified by the DOE: “Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing worth $10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $7 million. Those investments are part of a $78.2 million fund.”

Funding came from the Right, the Left, and everywhere in between.

At about the same time Solyndra began, the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 was initiated. Section 1703 seemed an ideal match for a company like Solyndra as follows: “Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks.” The emphasis here is on the word “risk.”

In 2006, Solyndra applied for a DOE loan under Section 1703. Late 2007 the loan program was funded and Solyndra was on the list for a loan. According to Energy Sec’y Sam Bodman at that time: “The Energy Department had received 143 pre-applications for the guarantees and narrowed the list down to 16 finalists — including Solyndra.” Why was Solyndra mentioned that way, as if singled out? According to, “Bush’s Energy Department apparently adjusted its regulations to make sure that Solyndra would be eligible for the guarantees. It hadn’t originally contemplated including the photovoltaic-panel manufacturing that Solyndra did but changed the regulation before it was finalized. The only project that benefited was Solyndra’s.” Hmmm—heavy Republican investors or what? The Bush Administration, as I often blogged about back then, was not exactly green by any stretch of the word. However, it was late 2007 and 2008 meant a new presidential race. Being able to tout investment in alternative energy might appeal to some independent voters. Whatever the case, this loan program and its admittance of Solyndra on the list was a decision made during the Bush Administration.

By 2008, Solyndra planned on building 2 new facilities in the U.S., and private investment in Solyndra reached an accumulated $450 million. It still looked like a great venture. Prices for silicon remained high and Solyndra’s costs were still competitive. But by late 2008, the loan still hadn’t been approved. According to

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

March 2009: The same credit committee approves the strengthened loan application. The deal passes on to DOE’s credit review board. Career staff (not political appointees) within the DOE issue a conditional commitment setting out terms for a guarantee.

Once taxpayer money was involved, the Obama administration was reluctant to let Solyndra fail. reported:

June 2009: As more silicon production facilities come online while demand for PV (photovoltaics) wavers due to the economic slowdown, silicon prices start to drop. Meanwhile, the Chinese begin rapidly scaling domestic manufacturing and set a path toward dramatic, unforeseen cost reductions in PV. Between June of 2009 and August of 2011, PV (photovoltaic) prices drop more than 50%.

Some reports suggested that President Obama was warned several times via email that the deal was risky. On the contrary, Media Matters stated:

There was no email to Obama that the deal wasn’t ready for prime time relative to financial risk. Instead Email Concerned Timing Of Announcement, Not The Merit Of The Loan Guarantee.[] The email argued that ‘This deal is NOT ready for prime time’ because there were more steps to be completed before the loan guarantee could be finalized — namely, OMB had to review the credit rating and Solyndra needed to raise an additional $200 million in private capital. [House Energy and Commerce Republicans,9/14/11]

The merit of the loan guarantee lies with the OMB or Office of Management and Budget.

  • OMB reviews and must approve credit subsidy cost estimates for all loan and loan guarantee programs, including the credit subsidy cost estimates generated by DOE for the Title XVII program, to ensure that costs are accounted for appropriately.
  • OMB assesses cost estimates on a loan-by-loan basis because the Title XVII program provides relatively large-dollar guarantees and because their characteristics, terms, and risks vary greatly from project to project.
  • OMB delegates the modeling of credit subsidy costs to agencies, and issues implementing guidance to ensure consistent and accurate estimates of cost.
  • OMB works closely with agencies to create or revise credit subsidy models for new programs or programs issuing their first loans or loan guarantees, such as the Title XVII program in 2009,
  • Based on these models, OMB reviews and exercises final approval authority over credit subsidy costs to ensure that the costs of direct loans and loan guarantees are presented, and reflect estimated risks, consistently across Federal agencies so that taxpayer funds are invested in a prudent and effective fashion.
  • The final decision on whether to issue the loan or guarantee rests with the agency implementing the applicable program – DOE in the case of Title XVII.

By September 2009 Solyndra raised the money, an additional $219 million dollars and the $535 million loan from the DOE went through. Around one billion dollars had been invested in Solyndra, the bigger portion coming from the private investment sector. The Walton’s (the Wal-Mart family) Madrone Capital Partners and the Kaiser Foundation’s Argonaut Venture Capital, the Right and Left money respectively, being the biggest investors.

At this point, early 2010, China trumped everyone in the solar game “dump[ing] $30 billion into its solar industry. That is a lot of money for infrastructure as well as research and development. There is little doubt that the companies making solar panels in China benefited from the money.”

However, China did so in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which prohibits government subsidies for corporations/businesses that plan to export. To do so allows that country to possibly corner the worldwide market in any segment, which China has done with solar panels. The thinking goes this way. A corporation is limited in growth if all its goods and services remain in the country. In the U.S., a corporation is limited by the fact that we only have 300 million people and consumers are only going to buy so many goods/services over a period of time. But if that same corporation decides to export—the sky is the limit. So for any government to heavily subsidize a corporation that also plans to export, tips the playing field badly on competition that can’t possibly keep up. Since China has over 3 times our population the playing field is already tipped to say the least. The $30 billion dollar Chinese “illegal” dump into the solar industry was a death knell for Solyndra.

It’s not unforeseen or unusual that from December 2010 through February 2011, the two largest private investors, DOE, and Solyndra “negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement to restructure the Solyndra loan guarantee. Throughout this process, DOE consulted with OMB about the proposed terms and conditions of this arrangement.” NY Times: Experts Said DOE’s Decision To Restructure “Is Routine In The Commercial World.” From a September 16, New York Times article

By the end of February 2011,

  • Both Argonaut and Madrone added a combined $69 million in emergency funds to Solyndra.
  • DOE agreed to extend the term of Solyndra’s loan guarantee from seven to 10 years, and to postpone the first repayment installment by one year, from 2012 to 2013.
  • In addition, the agreement provided that, in the event of the company’s liquidation before 2013, the investors have the senior secured position with respect to the first $75 million recovered. In this case, it is not the full $75 million but rather the $69 million in emergency funds as stated, “The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government. [Associated Press,9/16/11].
  • DOE has the second senior secured position with respect to the next $150 million recovered in liquidation. This is taxpayer money
  • If Solyndra had not liquidated or declared bankruptcy by 2013, the investors would have lost their senior secured position to DOE. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 9/12/11]

Media Matters further stated that the decision to fund Solyndra, which in turn built brand new state of the art facilities, is in much better shape to garner more when they liquidate. “DOE determined, as part of the restructuring, that the facility would be more valuable, even in the event of a future liquidation, once complete.” He went on to say that “DOE determined that restructuring the loan guarantee gave the U.S. taxpayer the best chance of being repaid”

So there you have it. Advanced solar technology like Solyndra had a foothold in the industry when it began 7 years ago, but failed during the slow, slow process of funding during which time a giant like China decided to dump an “unforeseen” 30 billion into the solar panel industry in a very short time. Did they know about Solyndra? China’s panels are ho hum standard cheap, nowhere near the innovation of Solyndra. It’s a shame we have segments of our population that scream about government helping new industry get a start when our competition does it all the time. It’s not socialism by any stretch, especially when it’s about energy and infrastructure. It’s investment in the U.S. future if we’re going to compete with the likes of China, India, Russia, or Brazil—the top 4 economic powers now. Government certainly needs to rethink  trade agreements too now that we know how China plans to play the game.


XL Pipeline Looks to be a Good Deal for China Not Americans; Alternate Route through British Columbia Being Considered

I did some research into the XL pipeline and reputable sources outlined a trail that leads back to China. China is investing in oil, gas, and alternative energy projects around the globe for its huge population and Canada is getting a lot of Chinese investment. According to an article from October this year by Senator Ron Wyden (OR), “Just last week, the New York Times reported that Sinopec, a Chinese oil company owned by the Chinese government, bought Daylight Energy, a Canadian oil and natural gas producer. This is the third major acquisition of a Canadian tar sands oil company by the Chinese government in recent months.” Just last year, “ConocoPhillips…agreed to sell its stake in Canadian oil sands producer Syncrude to a Chinese petroleum company for $4.65 billion. This marks the largest energy deal in North America by a company backed by China’s government.” With the latest scandal about conflict of interest between lobbyists for Trans Canada who propose the pipeline and officials in the State Dept., plus growing dissent among Americans, President Obama has taken over the decision of the pipeline. It will come somewhere around January and will take into account both economic and environmental factors.

The economics relative to the XL pipeline as far as I can see are this:

China benefits. Trans Canada benefits. U.S. Big Oil benefits.

The jobs are negligible. Information straight from TransCanada stated:

Construction of the proposed Project, including the pipeline and pump stations, would result in hiring approximately 5,000 to 6,000 workers over the 3 year construction period. As indicated above, it is expected that roughly 10 to 15 percent of the construction workforce would be hired from local labor markets, thus 500 to 900 local workers throughout the entire region of influence would be hired.

After construction of the pipeline there won’t be any jobs. To do what? Watch it? All the pumping stations are monitored electronically. Even oil job websites make the statement that pipeline jobs are temporary, “To build a pipeline takes a huge initial investment, but once it’s built, the cost of labor and pipeline maintenance are fairly low. Contrast this to the cost of building and running tanker ships, another popular means of oil transportation. It costs far less to build a tanker than a pipeline but over the long run it’s more expensive due to fuel costs, staff, and maintenance.”

Lower prices at the pump will simply not materialize once the tar sands oil is shared with a nation of 1 billion plus consumers like China. I shouldn’t use the term shared. The pipeline for tar sands is predestined for CHINA whether through the U.S or Canada. Demand will go up and so will prices and Canadian Oil is all for it. It’s in the plans to get prices up on dirty tar sands oil. As Senator Wyden also commented in the same article from Huffington Post cited above:

[]There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Canadian oil producers view the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as an opportunity to charge more for their oil. According to TransCanada, Canadian oil shippers could use the pipeline to add up to $4 billion to U.S. fuel costs. As I indicated in a letter to the FTC earlier this year, seven Canadian oil producer have already shown signs of having colluded to raise prices on gasoline for American consumers.[] Building the KXL pipeline would also mean that we would be helping our county’s biggest global competitor — China — meet its energy import needs at the expense of our own. Sounds like a great deal for China, but not such a good deal for the United States.

That’s quite a twist on what we’ve been told about the merits of the XL pipeline. We’re lied to once again by Big Oil advertising. There will be no hundreds of thousands of jobs and growing. It will not boost our economy but for Big Oil’s pockets and will possibly serve to raise prices at the pumps instead. And in the grand finale of it all we’re helping our biggest competitor with nothing in it for us.

Meanwhile a video of the environmental impact from developing a project like Alberta Tar Sands speaks a thousand words. We should not have done this. We should not perpetuate this practice any longer.

Canada’s Dirty Oil: Breaking Our Addiction – General audience (long version) from Dirty Oil Sands on Vimeo.

It’s time to move on to the 21st Century and away from fossil fuel. There is no need to tap INTO the earth when the environment has readily available, renewable sources for energy that have never been harvested in a big way. We’ll never switch to alternatives, if we continue our addiction to fossil fuels and enable other countries to use what will ultimately create more climate crisis worldwide.


Check Out China’s New Environmental Bus

China has a new transportation idea, a bus that small cars can pass through underneath. An article on states: “Powered by electricity and solar energy, the bus can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time without blocking other vehicles’ way. Also it costs about 500 million yuan to build the bus and a 40-km-long path for it, only 10% of building equivalent subway. It is said that the bus can reduce traffic jams by 20-30%.” Also, according to Engadget, “Construction of the first 115 miles of track will begin in Beijing’s Mentougou district at the end of 2010.”

Our answer to this: “Despite greater awareness about vehicle emissions and spikes in gasoline prices, Census figures show fewer people carpooling than 30 years ago.”

Huff Post has a slide show of China’s bus, its proposed rail system and stations. A really cool invention here! Check it out.


As U.S. Energy Bill Dies China to Establish Domestic Carbon Trading Program by 2015

The hope of passing a decent and comprehensive energy bill is dead. Republicans will not even consider it. They stand for corporate America and will not budge. In the meantime, China leads us in solar and wind, (wind power doubled in 2009), and is working on a new super grid. China also has a model of a green utopia in Baoding that I blogged about where the mayor literally shut down all the factories when he saw all the dead fish floating in the rivers and lakes. He pushed for green manufacturing and turned a profit from it within 3 years. The communist government was very pleased.

We have dead turtles, fish, dolphins, pelicans, etc., in the gulf and no matter, we continue on the same profitable (not for us) path falling farther behind our competitors who aren’t going to be pleased with us the next time we meet for a climate summit. China seems to be keeping its promise of moving ahead to a cleaner future, while we
just stagnate.

According to the NYT:

Chinese companies have already played a leading role in pushing
down the price of solar panels by almost half over the last year. [] China’s biggest solar
panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, said that to build market share, it plans to sell solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.

Backed by lavish government support, the Chinese are preparing to build plants to assemble their products in the United States to bypass protectionist legislation,

Hmmm. I might be in the market for some of those panels myself if they are that cheap. My house has a lot of roof space that has full exposure all day. I could get off the grid most of the time. They will be U.S. made. What a pleasant thought, nary a utility bill ever again.

People want jobs and don’t really care about the green thing right now, well maybe they can get employment in a Suntech plant because our fossil fuel industry and their representatives in congress just don’t believe that hogwash about global warming. It’s fossil fuels or die or should it be “and” die.

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Worldwide Floods Validate Forecast; Ocean Warming Will Increase Precipitation

I’ve blogged about the predicted increase in precipitation associated with global warming. But Science Daily published an article in January of this year that stated: “Precipitation tends to increase over regions with ocean warming above the tropical mean (contours of warm colors in oC), and to decrease where ocean warming is below the tropical mean (contours of cool colors).” So there will be drought in parts of the world and more precipitation in others. So much for the idea that everyone worldwide will fry from global warming. Some will just get saturated and carried away by water. And the fact is floods kill more people than any other weather event.

The study outlined on Science Daily’s website was done by “a team of scientists headed by meteorologist Shang-Ping Xie at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s International Pacific Research Center that analyzed global model warming projections in models used by the IPCC.” It found that “ocean temperature patterns in the tropics and subtropics will change in ways that will lead to significant changes in rainfall patterns.” According to the article, two patterns stand out:

First, the maximum temperature rise in the Pacific is along a broad band at the equator. Already today the equatorial Pacific sets the rhythm of a global climate oscillation as shown by the world-wide impact of El Niño. This broad band of peak temperature on the equator changes the atmospheric heating in the models. By anchoring a rainband similar to that during an El Nino, it influences climate around the world through atmospheric teleconnections.

A second ocean warming pattern with major impact on rainfall occurs in the Indian Ocean and would affect the lives of billions of people. Overlayed on Indian Ocean warming for part of the year is what scientists call the Indian Ocean Dipole that occasionally occurs today once every decade or so. Thus, the models show that warming in the western Indian Ocean is amplified, reaching 1.5°C, while the eastern Indian Ocean it is dampened to around 0.5°C.

Xie predicts that if this pattern occurs, rainfall will dramatically shift over eastern Africa, India, and SE Asia, while droughts could happen in Indonesia and Australia.

Well, changes in rainfall patterns are certainly evident as worldwide flash floods are all over the news lately claiming lives and leaving thousands homeless. It looks like those IPCC models are more accurate than most detractors would like to admit:

In March floods in France claimed 45 lives

In the back hills of the French Riviera, flash floods recently claimed 25 lives.

Floods also occurred elsewhere in southern France

Myanmar and Bangledesh flash floods claimed 100 lives.

Flash floods in Brazil claim over 40 lives with 600 missing and 40,000 without shelter.

Poland’s floods claim 12 lives

Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia also flooded along with Poland

There are huge floods in more than one province of China displacing 2.4 million people, killing over 210

Singapore flooded

Floods in Spain claim 2

And major floods in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Arkansas in the U.S. recently claimed close to 30 lives.

Check out the pictures of flood victims worldwide:

Brazil’s flood:

Worldwide flood reports:

France floods:

China’s floods:,-more-torrential-rains-forecast-for-affected-areas.


Offshore Wind; U.S. Finally Catching Up with the Competition

The U.S. is finally able to build the offshore wind farm, Cape Wind, a project by Jim Gordon of Energy Management, Inc., that has been battling for almost a decade to begin off of Nantucket Sound. Secy. of Interior Salazar signed off on the project yesterday. Not a month too soon. The U.S. is lagging behind not only Europe for offshore wind production who have been at it for 20 years, we got behind our greatest competitor for offshore wind farm production, China.

China already has an offshore wind farm and is set to have a world exhibition of it June 2010. But the U.S. Cape Wind project is bigger than China’s, about 4 times bigger. According to, “The 130 turbines, spaced a third- to a half-mile apart, will cover about 25 of the 500 square miles of Nantucket Sound. They will stand more than 40 stories tall and provide up to 75 percent of the power to the Cape and islands.” It also said they would be a couple of miles offshore. The whole reason this was held up for so long is that some people did not want to look at them, that the wind farm represents an aesthetic loss for the landscape. I have to disagree. Of all the beautiful places in the world, Oahu, Hawaii’s north shore has wind turbines on the side of a mountain that is also a point on the island and for some reason all the white spinning towers together reminds me of seagulls. They are onshore but nonetheless… It’s a peaceful site depicting a reverence for nature. I also think that the turbines off of Nantucket Sound are going to attract people who want to get a gander at them. If I was vacationing in Nantucket, I would check out the fuss over the turbines. But at my age and the two mile distance of the towers, I might not see anything at all.

As far as China, well the “first Chinese offshore wind farm in Shanghai went online in 2009 as a demonstration project, (we are behind), followed by further ambitious plans to build more offshore wind farms in the costal provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang. Fujian, Guangdong and Shandong. It is estimated that Jiangsu province will establish the offshore wind farm with the total capacity of 7GW and Zhejiang province of 2.7 GW by the year of 2020,” according to’s website. It also stated: “34 wind turbines at the offshore wind farm near Donghai Bridge were installed on Jan. 27, 2010. This farm is expected to be in use before the 2010 World Expo.” And yes there is an Offshore Wind 2010 China World Premier Event for Asian Offshore Wind Power, that is a conference and exhibition in Shanghai in June.
Read about Cape Wind and watch video on

Read a bunch of stuff about China and wind power:

About Expo 2010 in Shanghai:


6.9 Earthquake Hits China

A 6.9 earthquake flattened Qinghai province inside the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China this morning. Four hundred are dead, and as many as 10,000 injured while many more are feared to be buried beneath mountains of rubble. Unfortunately, this earthquake was shallow like that of Haiti, and the housing was made mostly of wood. It’s reported that 85% of housing collapsed.

It makes a big difference whether earthquakes are shallow or deep. On April 12th, a 6.3 earthquake struck Granada, Spain. There was nary a tremor from it because it was 380 miles deep. The quake in China is a disaster. It was only 6.2 miles deep. One of the aftershocks in China has registered 5.8. There have been 18 aftershocks so far. There is a crack in a dam nearby that does not bode well for the area.

Efforts to help survivors have been hindered by cold weather and landslides. It doesn’t help that the nearest airport is hundreds of miles away. China has lost thousands of people to earthquakes in the past few years. According to the website, Everything PR, “In 2008, a huge quake struck neighboring Sichuan province – it left 87,000 people dead or missing. The aftermath of that event left five million people homeless.”

This area is known for quakes. There are many slip faults. Best Syndication website stated: “The Indian Tectonic Plate is also pushing into the Eurasian Tectonic Plate forming the nearby Himalayas (Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT) and Main Boundary Thrust fault zone).

What kind of catastrophic event would occur if a massive earthquake shook the Himalayas?

BBC has the best video so far:


Chinese Coal Cargo Ship Rams Part of Great Barrier Reef in Australia

A Chinese Coal Cargo Carrier (Cosco shipping), rammed the Douglas Shoal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Queensland, Australia at full speed. So far the ship, the Shen Neng 1, is holding together and dozens including marine salvage experts are working to insure it stays that way. An oil spill from this ship could prove disastrous for the world’s largest reef.

Only a small number of oil patches were spotted from the air and they have already been sprayed with chemical dispersant. Whether or not the chemical dispersant has a bad affect on living organisms in the reef is still unsure. I tried to read up on chemical dispersants in a PDF file pages long. Basically, the affects of dispersants are only known in controlled lab experiments and for a handful of living organisms. To cover all the effects of chemical dispersants on all living organisms in a reef that size has not ever been done. And we pretty much know a lab experiment would be hard pressed to cover how the movement and volume of water in the sea changes the findings on chemical dispersants in the lab anyway.

So needless to say, officials in Australia are working frantically to keep this ship together and figure how it’s going to be salvaged. Prevention of any spillage is of course the best scenario. The ship was almost 10 miles off course when it entered the area that is off limits to commercial ships. Cosco could be fined over $1,000,000 and the captain $250,000 in penalties according to an article on

Luckily, no storms are predicted for the next few days to cause more problems because the ship is carrying 975 tons of heavy fuel oil and 65,000 tons of coal. My last blog that coal is dirty start to finish didn’t encompass the risk of shipping it across the sea. In the article, the Queensland Premier, Ms Anna Bligh said, “The number of ships in the area was expected to increase with the growth of the natural gas industry. There has been a growing concern about increased ship traffic and that Maritime Safety Queensland was already considering whether more professional pilots should be used to help with ships’ navigation. It may well be that we will see more pilots.”

After this, let’s hope so.


Obama’s Visit to China Culminates in Clean Energy Relations on Many Fronts

It appears that President Obama’s visit to China culminated in more than one partnership/program between the two nations to usher in serious changes for the world’s environmental future. An article on ENS website stated the two presidents “welcomed significant steps forward to advance policy dialogue and practical cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment,” building on a previous agreement reached in July.

While neither president was compelled to disclose their final positions going into Copenhagen’s Climate Change Summit next month nor did they declare any numerical emissions targets, they publicly agreed that the outcome at Copenhagen “should include emission reductions targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.” Of course they acknowledged that responsibilities will be different for every country and based on respective capabilities of those countries.

What peaked my attention in all of this is that the U.S. and China both agreed that whatever happens in Copenhagen the “outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries; promote technology development, dissemination and transfer; pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change[].” So the U.S. and China agree with financial assistance to developing countries the subject of a recent blog of mine about Third World countries demanding climate reparations in the form of financial assistance from developed countries.

I’m not sure whether President Obama or President Hu of China agrees with the concept of these climate reparations per se but they did agree on the financial assistance to poorer countries. I’m just wondering how Obama is going to break this news to climate skeptics divided again along party lines when these skeptics won’t even admit man is creating the climate problem. As I said, many in the U.S. are in a misstep with the rest of the world concerning climate change.
Meanwhile, the two presidents hashed out quite a cooperative between the U.S. and China on many fronts. The article listed six initial elements:

1) Establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center

2) The launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative

3) The launch of a new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan

4) The pledge to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, including large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects

5) The launch of a new U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative

6) U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program

There is more launching going on with that list then at Cape Kennedy, which is all well and good since so many arguments that keep the U.S. from moving forward on climate initiatives center around pointing the finger at China’s pollution. But considering Americans are contrary, and big polluting industries are gearing up for a fight against cleaning up our act, it’s going to be a big upward struggle to get moving—China or no China.

Read the details: